FLAVOURS OF CORNWALL: JAMES STRAWBRIDGE ON VENISON
PUBLISHED: 17:40 17 May 2015 | UPDATED: 13:05 30 August 2017
This is a great time of year to make the most out of local game and I've been enjoying cooking wild goulash, burgers, stroganoff and pasties all made with venison.
This is a great time of year to make the most out of local game and I’ve been enjoying cooking wild goulash, burgers, stroganoff and pasties all made with venison.
Venison is a sustainable protein source, lean and therefore healthy, and full of flavour. My wife is also due to give birth this month to our third child and so I’ve had to get inventive in the kitchen to find exciting ways to feed her venison cravings and fuel her up with the valuable iron-rich meat. Served with plenty of sprouting broccoli and curly kale - midwife’s orders...
My favourite local source of wild meats is from the Duchy Game Company founded in 2012 by Scott Martin and Marc Dennis, and now supplying restaurants and the public with wild, traceable Cornish game.
Scott Martin has a strong background in local hunting, stalking and supplying game. As a licensed hunter, Scott is able to source the finest wild game from various local Cornish estates that he has strong ties with including Caerhays Castle and Tregothnan Estate. His move from hunter to supplier began in September 2012 when, as a sole trader, he started a stall at the Truro Farmer’s Market before joining forces with Marc Dennis to form the successful Duchy Game and expand the reach and reputation of Cornish wild game.
Marc Dennis’s experience in the fine meat trade started fifteen years ago when he joined R S Ashby ltd, a quality catering butchers based in South London. There he was able to build up an extensive knowledge of the meat industry and developed a keen eye for quality products. On moving to Cornwall in 2012, Marc’s passion for locally sourced wild Cornish produce was born and he teamed up with Scott to ensure the supply of wild Cornish game from field to table, county and country wide.
The majority of Duchy Game’s birds come from Caerhays Castle, which is owned by the Williams family, located in a sheltered valley overlooking Porthluney Cove on the South Cornish Coast equidistant from Truro and St. Austell. I had the pleasure a couple of years ago to meet their resident shoot chef Maggie Semmen and the quality of the birds was fantastic. There, among the valleys, woods, cliffs and towering magnolias, Charles Williams has developed one of the best shoots in Britain — 80 days a year of top-of-the-range shooting, traditionally rearing the spectacularly beautiful Kansas pheasant.
Duchy Game venison comes from the world famous tea-growing Tregothnan Estate located on the Roseland Peninsula. The concept of a working country estate may be one some people believe is already consigned to the history books but Tregothnan is living, breathing proof that the working estate is as relevant today as in our past and is a place where generations of families have lived & worked the land. The tenant farmers offer some of the finest, most diverse produce in Cornwall.
Eating gnarly looking dried bits of meat is great! Desiccation solved the problem of preserving slaughtered animals for the leaner months and was an ideal technique for travelling due to its high nutritional value and convenience. To me jerky goes hand-in-hand with a fishing trip or an afternoon walk in the woods. That said, jerky is as much at home as a back-garden picnic snack or an unusual treat to eat while watching a film. Jerky can be made from all sorts of animals such as goat, pork, lamb or more unusual ones like turkey, venison, tuna and ostrich. It is essentially thin slices that are dried quickly. The best cuts of meat to use are steak, skirt steak, rump roast or what is known in America as flank steak. If you want to try a vegetarian option for this technique then have a go at making your own fruit leather.
Tools and equipment
A dehydrator is a piece of kit that will be useful for all sorts of drying and can be used for both meat, fruit and vegetables. If you are looking at preserving lots of your own food then it may be worth investing in one. If using a dehydrator for these recipes then make sure that you cut the slices of meat to a size that easily fits inside!